Dog spinning – the moral dilemma

Narrated from: Dog Stories

Recently an ancient custom was restored in a Bulgarian village and the world was shocked. This ritual is called dog-spinning (trichane).

The idea of the ritual is simple – a dog is tied with a rope and hung over a river. Then the dog is turned repeatedly in one direction so the rope can be wound. After that the dog is released and spins rapidly over the river.

The ritual was condemned as cruel and barbaric. That is true – but the outrage of some of the reactions was also stunning.

Dog spinning is probably cruel to the dogs. One might argue that many dogs might actually enjoy it, just as many humans pay money to ride roller coasters and throw up afterwards. However, the cruelty of the tradition lies in the fact that the dogs do not have any choice in the matter.

The tradition of dog-spinning shouldn’t be performed in a modern, 21st century country. However, it is part of a cultural heritage and this should be remembered. Dog-spinning probably has pagan origins. It is performed to benefit the dog’s health – people used to believe that after dog-spinning, the dog would not suffer from rabies. Since Bulgaria has been a Christian stronghold for quite a long time now, many Christians also attribute a religious meaning to the ceremony, claiming that since it is performed on March 6th, it actually allows dogs to be part of the Great Lent.

So, dog-spinning is done with good intentions – or at least it is supposed to be, though many people probably just enjoy watching it.

However, the practice has been largely abandoned. In the 20th century it was practiced more and more rarely, and the last recorded dog-spinning was in 2005. Dog-spinning was restored in 2011 in a single village – the now infamous Brodilovo – and thus caused an uproar that resulted in a change of Bulgarian law that officially prohibited dog-spinning.

So, dogs won’t get dizzy. Dog owners have been denied one of the traditions of their forefathers, so there is a moral dilemma here, since on the one side we have animal cruelty, and on the other we have meddling with people’s beliefs.

Still, stopping animal cruelty wins, since, as we said, humans are blessed with freedom of choice, which dogs rarely have.

However, before terms such as “barbaric” and “Vulgaria” are used, people should pause and think: “Why am I getting so angry about some people spinning their dogs when there are more severe cases of animal cruelty all over the world?”

Did you know that dog meat is still consumed in many rural parts of Switzerland as this is “traditional”? Or that in many traditional Chinese markets you can purchase a live cat that is killed with a blow to the head? Or that in Japanese schools children are served dolphin meat?

Animal cruelty is a bad thing, but it is a part of life. And all the people that crusaded against dog-spinning should think about finding a more suitable target – and God knows, there are plenty of cruel traditions to fight!

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